Vulnerability Scanning and Blocking
  • 09 Mar 2022
  • 6 Minutes to read
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Vulnerability Scanning and Blocking

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  • PDF

When you incorporate third-party, open-source packages into your applications or build your Docker containers from third-party container images, you also incorporate those packages' and container images' security vulnerabilities. But manually checking for vulnerabilities is an extraordinary drain on resources.

ProGet automates vulnerability scanning. We partner with three leading vulnerability scanning companies – Sonatype (OSS Index), WhiteSource, and Red Hat (Clair) – to automatically scan third-party packages and Docker container images against vulnerability databases like the National Vulnerability Database.. You can also manually manage your vulnerabilities and can reassess at any time. Container image vulnerability management is available in ProGet 5.3 and later.

This feature is available in paid and trial ProGet editions.

Vulnerability Scanning and Blocking Workflows

ProGet supports four different workflows for managing vulnerabilities:

Manual OSS Index WhiteSource Clair*
Cost - - $ -
Thoroughness ★☆☆ ★★☆ ★★★ ★★☆
Block vulnerable packages -
Block vulnerable container images - -
Manually enter vulnerability reports -
Assess vulnerability report within ProGet -
Automatically scan public databases -
Scan proprietary databases - - -
Requires subscription - -R Sign Up -

RWhile OSS Index doesn't require a paid subscription, users will need to create a registered account.

*New to ProGet 5.3 is support for Clair, which only works with container registries in ProGet.

See Integrating ProGet with OSS Index, Integrating ProGet with WhiteSource, and Integrating ProGet with Clair documentation for more details on those workflows.

Feeds and Vulnerability Configuration

A feed must be explicitly configured to use automated vulnerability scanning and blocking. Manual vulnerability records can be added without any additional setup. While the end result is the same, the workflows use different features within ProGet:

  • Automated vulnerability sources and manual vulnerability records are used for manual, OSS Index, and Clair managed workflows; these add vulnerability records into ProGet that you must assess
  • Package access rules are used for WhiteSource-managed workflows; these block package downloads based on rules configured in WhiteSource

You can configure vulnerability sources and package access rules on the Manage Feed page. Note that Clair requires extra setup, the details for which can be found in the configuring clair in ProGet section. If you don't see OSS Index as a vulnerability source or WhiteSource as a package access rule, check Admin > Extensions to make sure those extensions are installed.

Automated vulnerability sources download vulnerabilities and check associated feeds using a scheduled job.

Manually Check For Vulnerabilities

Automated vulnerability sources can have their scheduled job executed manually at any time by running the VulnerabilityDownloader task. To execute this job, navigate to Administration -> Scheduled Jobs page. Then click the green play button to the right of the VulnerabilityDownloader task. This is a system-level scoped task that will download vulnerabilities for all of the configured sources and check their associated feeds for vulnerabilities.

Vulnerability Reports and Assessments in ProGet

Both the manual and OSS Index workflows use vulnerability reports, which essentially identify that a particular package or versioned range of packages has a known vulnerability. This record is either manually entered or is imported from OSS Index, based on packages in a particular feed.

For container reports, Clair attempts to determining which operating system (OS) a container image was built with and then uses that OS to scan specific security databases to check for vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities are then automatically associated with the container's affected layer within the registry Clair was configured to scan. Manual vulnerability records can also be added to affected container layers by specifying that layer's digest.

All newly entered or imported vulnerability reports are considered unassessed, which means that packages matching the vulnerability will be blocked until the report is assessed. An assessment involves an authorized user reviewing the report, choosing an assessment type (Ignore, Caution, Block), and leaving an optional comment.


Assessment Expiry

An "assessment" you make on a package or container image vulnerability may be configured to expire. This means that, unless it's reassessed, the vulnerability report will be considered "unassessed" after expiry.

There are two primary use-caes for expiration.

  • If you permit packages or container images with unassessed vulnerabilities to be downloaded, this means that you can use an expiring assessment to temporary block a package.
  • If you block unassessed vulnerabilities, then you can use an expiring assessment to temporary un-block a package.

The reason to temporarily block or unblock packages is due to the nature of security vulnerabilities. Just because a particular package or container image has a security vulnerability, it doesn't mean your application will utilize the vulnerable aspects. In fact, constantly jumping to newer versions just to avoid reported vulnerabilities is often less secure - the newer versions have unknown vulnerabilities, which you might be using.

By temporary unblocking packages and container images, you can periodically review how engineers are using them. The usage may have changed.

Manual Vulnerability Records

A manual vulnerability record is used to add specific package versions (or version ranges) or which container image layers to block. Manual vulnerability records can be added to a package or container image layer without additional configuration.

Visit the Vulnerabilities page or the Vulnerabilities tab on the package or container image page then click the Add Vulnerability button to specify the feed, the package ID and version(s) or the container image layer digest, and the details of the vulnerability.

Blocking a Package Download

Selecting Blocked will prevent any packages within the version range or container images that include the vulnerable layer to be downloaded. From the Vulnerabilities page or the Vulnerabilities tab on the package or container image page, selecting the vulnerability, then Assess, and choose Blocked, optionally adding a comment.

Browsing to a package version within the range specified or a container image with an associated layer in the blocked vulnerability will display Blocked where the download button would normally be, and the packagem or container image will be not be downloadable from its associated feed API.

Note: while the package version or container image is blocked from download, it may still appear in search or list results.

Version Ranges

Manual vulnerability records may encompass multiple package versions using version range syntax, for example:

Range Meaning
3.0.0 version = 3.0.0
[3.0] version = 3.0
<=2.0 version <= 2.0
[1.3,1.4] 1.3 <= version <= 1.4
>=1.3 <=1.4 1.3 <= version <= 1.4
>2.5 version > 2.5
<=1.0,>=1.2 version <= 1.0 or version >= 1.2
<1.1 >1.1 Exclude version 1.1

Note: versions must be specified out to their full value to match. For example, 2.0 will not match 2.0.0

Due to the inconsistency on container repository tags, container registries are not compatible with version ranges.

Assessment Types

ProGet comes with three built-in assessment types:

  • Ignore indicates that the vulnerability report is not applicable or irrelevant and therefore allows for packages to be downloaded
  • Caution tells developers to be careful to avoid the vulnerability; packages may be downloaded, but a warning is issued on the web UI
  • Blocked means a vulnerability is too severe to allow use, and packages are prevented from being downloaded

You can edit or create your own assessment type by going to Admin > Assessment Types, and specifying a name, expiration (days), color, whether or not packages would be blocked, and an auto-assessment range.

Automatic Assessment

Starting in v6, ProGet can automatically assess new vulnerabilities based on a vulnerability's CVE Score. You can configure this by simply creating or editing the auto-assessment range on an assessment type.

Edit Auto-assess Settings

Note that auto-assessment only applies to new vulnerabilities; if an assessment expires, it will not be automatically re-assessed.

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